Dragon’s Eye

Lake Dragon’s Eye (Dragon Lake, Rogoznica’s Lake, Galešnica) is a unique geohydromorphological phenomenon on the eastern Adriatic coast that has developed distinctive flora and fauna because of its special physical and chemical properties. It is situated on the peninsula of Gradina, a narrow stretch of land that separates the Bays of Soline and Koprišće. The lake is surrounded by sheer cliffs whose average height is between four and twenty-four meters. Its surface area is approximately 10,000 square meters, with a maximum measured depth of fifteen meters. The lake has no visible surface connections with the surrounding sea, but lake and sea water both seep through cracks and channels in the porous limestone. Because of the unique environment of Lake Dragon’s Eye, with its thick bottom layer of hydrogen sulfide, many local and foreign scientists have studied it in recent years, often comparing the lake with the Black Sea, the Framvaren Fjord in Norway, or the crater lake Pavin in France. Over the centuries, it has happened that the lake “boils,” or, as scientists say, there is a rollover of the water column. This unusual natural phenomenon inspired locals to invent different legends. One popular legend tells of two brothers, one of whom was blind. The sighted brother, in dividing their land, tricked the blind brother, and in retaliation the blind brother conjured a curse: “If you have not shared the land fairly, let it all turn into a lake.” And it did. But in this lake that sometimes churns and boils lived a dragon. The dragon, says local tradition, was merciless–each year he charged a bloody fee of the most beautiful girl and the fattest sheep. Another story tells of the dragon Murin, the illegitimate son of Hera and Poseidon, who ruled the polis of Heraclea from his palace on the island of Velika Smokvica. He protected the inhabitants from invaders and marauders, and in return every year, on the longest day of the year, the people had to give him the most beautiful girl for a wife. Unfortunately, no one survived the first wedding night. Legend says that on June 20th, on the winged horse Pegasus, a hero descended called Aristoles, great-grandson of the Argonauts’ Jason. He fell in love with a girl who was supposed to wed the cruel dragon the next day. The young hero challenged the dragon to a duel, and mortally wounded the beast with a spear made by the powerful goddess Athena with lunar dust and the help of Hephaestus. As he lay dying, Murin dug out his own eyes with his claws. One of them he threw far beyond the island of Mljet, and the other slipped under his feet and melted the rock. Water filled the pit and formed a lake, which came to be called Dragon’s Eye. According to this legend about the dragon Murin, if two people who are in love bathe in the Dragon’s Eye, they will be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives, and their marriage will be blessed with eternal love and healthy children.